FRANKFORT – Special Olympics Kentucky will return to its home away from home at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, when that campus hosts the organization’s State Summer Games, June 3-5. The Games are Special Olympics Kentucky’s largest event of the year with nearly 1,400 athletes competing in five sports, and hundreds of coaches and volunteers also taking part. This is the 22nd consecutive year that EKU has hosted the State Summer Games.
Summer Games activities get underway early on June 3 in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort with the opening of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg at 9 am. Governor Matt Bevin and Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders will speak in the Rotunda. The Final Leg group will then head to the Capitol steps for the lighting of the Special Olympics Torch, which the Final Leg participants will then carry to Richmond for the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies.
Opening Ceremonies for the Games will begin at 7 p.m. on June 3 in The Ravine near the center of the EKU campus (weather permitting). The Ceremonies will include the parade of athletes, the National Anthem sung by Marlana VanHoose, an appearance by singer Lauren Mink and the lighting of the Special Olympics cauldron by 2015 Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete of the Year Tommy Parson of Berea. In the event of bad weather, the Opening Ceremonies will be held in Alumni Coliseum.
The Opening Ceremonies will also feature the introduction of the two Kentucky athletes who will participate with the Special Olympics USA team at the 2016 World Winter Games in Austria. Skiers Kelly McCormick of Louisville and Patrick Tutsch of Lexington will be introduced to conclude the Parade of Athletes.
Competition will begin Friday night immediately following the Opening Ceremonies. Tom Samuels Track will host the distance races and relays beginning at approximately 8:20 pm on June 3. There will also be several heats of the shot put competition held on Friday night. The Don Combs Natatorium will also see aquatics action on Friday night, beginning at 8:30 with the short course relay events.
The main action gets underway early in the morning on Saturday, June 4, with the opening of all remaining competitive events. Athletes will be competing in track and field, swimming, bocce, soccer and rhythmic gymnastics.
The public is encouraged to attend the Opening Ceremonies and all competitions. All are open to the public and there is no admission charge. Most competitions on Saturday will be underway by 9 a.m.
Saturday’s activities will also include the popular Chick-fil-A Olympic Town area, which includes several interactive activities for athletes and their families. Chick-fil-A Olympic Town is also the location of the annual Healthy Athletes Athlete Wellness Village. This year’s Healthy Athletes program features a Special Smiles location where athletes can receive dental screenings; an Opening Eyes vision screening venue; a Fit Feet location where athletes can receive podiatric evaluations; FUN Fitness, which gives physical therapy evaluations; and the latest addition Health Promotions, which offers advice on diet and other healthy lifestyles. All of the services provided in the Healthy Athlete Village are free to the athletes and provided by volunteers.
Photos from all competitions and other Summer Games activities will be available on line throughout the day at http://flickr.com/photos/sokentucky/albums. Photos will be downloadable and can be used for publication.
Saturday’s activities conclude with the official Closing Ceremonies, which begin at 7:30 pm in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot. Closing ceremonies include the presentation of the pentathlon medals, fireworks and an athlete victory dance.
Volunteers are still needed for several venues at the Games. For volunteer opportunities, contact Justin Harville at 800-633-7403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have served as the Platinum Sponsor for the Games. Touchstone Energy is the largest single supporter of the State Summer Games. This will be the third year that Chick-fil-A Central Kentucky stores are teaming up to provide all lunches for athletes, coaches and volunteers on Saturday, June 4.
For information about the 2016 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky communications director Mark Buerger at 502-695-8222 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
The 2016 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games are made possible through the generosity of platinum sponsor Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, Special Olympics Kentucky year-round partners The Kentucky Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics and Texas Roadhouse; Gold Olympic Town sponsor Chick-fil-A; Silver Sponsors AECOM, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond Tourism and Southland Dairy Farmers; Bronze Sponsors Golden Corral, Greentree Forest Products and Lockheed Martin and games sponsors the City of Richmond, Dever Golf Cars, and Positively Java.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation in competitive events is open to all individuals eight years of age or older. Training and competition in local, area, state, and national programs is offered year-round in Kentucky in 15 sports. In addition to its traditional sports competitions, Special Olympics also offers early childhood programming through the Young Athletes Program and medical screenings though the Healthy Athletes Initiative. Special Olympics Kentucky began as a one-day event in Louisville in 1970 and has expanded to serve more than 7,400 athletes statewide annually. Special Olympics has now been changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Kentucky for 46 years.